Grammar

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Thread: Grammar

  1. #1

    Grammar

    My guess is that very few of us speak grammatically correct and I don't think that sentence is grammatically correct. Which is better to write grammatically correct or write like we speak?
    I plan on writing my musings (my thoughts) on an old fellow and I think I will write it exactly the way I think it.
    Last edited by writemor; August 16th, 2013 at 12:48 AM. Reason: misspelled

  2. #2
    It depends. You have far more scope for writing like you speak, when using a first-person narrative. In fact it can really help to create a distinct voice if you do this. But if you're talking grammatically correct, then you're talking about punctuation too, and that is one area where I don't think you can take too many liberties. Bad punctuation can make a paragraph very difficult to read.

    For instance, in your post you say: "Which is better to write grammatically correct or write like we speak?"

    I'm guessing this isn't really how you speak because I would imagine you would naturally pause after the word 'write', but the way you've written it - without a comma after the word - forces the reader to say it without a pause, which isn't natural.
    Last edited by OurJud; August 16th, 2013 at 01:00 AM.

  3. #3
    I've been wondering about this too.

    I think grammar is my biggest obstacle when only just trying to initially write. I have a really hard time getting started and maintaining momentum, and I think it's due to my anal nature of being "by the book." In English courses in middle school & high school, I always got A's in punctuation and grammar. It was easy for me. I just followed whatever rules my teachers said were the correct ways to structure a sentence and paragraph. Commas always went here or there. Fragments and run-ons were easy to spot and correct. But now as I'm trying to really delve into writing in my 30s, I'm finding it extremely difficult to find my 'voice' because of it. I'll get bits of enthusiasm and influence now and then, plop myself in front of the keyboard and go to town. However when I finished with a short set of paragraphs or a scene, I'll read over it, and while it may sound fine in the way I've written it, my brain can't help but notice all the grammar and punctuation mistakes. So naturally I'll try to restructure my recently written story or paragraphs into what I learned in school long ago was correct grammar, and in the end turn it into something that no longer resembles what I was trying to achieve. I find it very discouraging.

    How do you veterans handle this?

  4. #4
    Well I'm certainly not a veteran, but I'll have a go at answering.

    Having your own 'voice' is all well and good, but I don't see how there can possibly be an alternative to proper punctuation. Punctuation is there for a reason. It tells the reader where to pause, where to take a breath. In short, it forces them to read the text in the same way it would be spoken/heard.

    This is a passage form Fear and Loathing with all the punctuation removed

    Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas Five years later Six It seems like a lifetime or at least a Main Era the kind of peak that never comes again San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of Maybe it meant something Maybe not in the long run but no explanation no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world Whatever it meant...
    Even with the capital letters left in (which follow the full stops that were originally there) it's very difficult to read. Compare it to the same passage with the punctuation intact

    Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era - the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run... but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant...
    It would take some immense skill to abuse punctuation on this scale and still get away with it.

    Having said all that, I'm not sure the OP was necessarily talking about punctuation, but rather writing as he speaks. If this is the case, then I would say again that doing this is a great way to develop a distinct voice, but that it still needs to be punctuated correctly.
    Last edited by OurJud; August 16th, 2013 at 02:22 AM.

  5. #5
    It tells the reader where to pause, where to take a breath. In short, it forces them to read the text in the same way they would be spoken/heard.
    More important perhaps, is the fact that punctuation helps to guide the reader in organizing words into ideas. One presumes we all mostly use standard letters and words, albeit with personal preference and idiosyncrasy. Grammar, which is a much deeper subject than punctuation, is a linguistic organization and convention as vital to writing as spelling and vocabulary. But, as there is much leeway in most constructs, it's probably not worth shutting down completely over the last ten or fifteen percent that's not being automatically utilized with adequate correctness. Just do the best you can, or feel like. If it's not good enough, I'll let you know. pp
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. Steven Wright

  6. #6
    I don't always talk like others. In fact I've been made fun of over it which I told them that they were the ones talking funny.LOL I don't talk as convoluted as Emerson though. Is Emerson's writing grammatically correct?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by OurJud View Post
    It depends. You have far more scope for writing like you speak, when using a first-person narrative. In fact it can really help to create a distinct voice if you do this. But if you're talking grammatically correct, then you're talking about punctuation too, and that is one area where I don't think you can take too many liberties. Bad punctuation can make a paragraph very difficult to read.

    For instance, in your post you say: "Which is better to write grammatically correct or write like we speak?"

    I'm guessing this isn't really how you speak because I would imagine you would naturally pause after the word 'write', but the way you've written it - without a comma after the word - forces the reader to say it without a pause, which isn't natural.
    Addressing that quote and the first post alone - and more so addressing that sentence - this is the EXACT way I would speak those words (as best I can write it):

    "Which is better: to write grammatically correct; or write like we speak?"

    But based on the area I am from, the way I stress words and my accent, it would come across to the ears more like:

    "Which is betta? to wri'e usin' proppa gramma; or t' wri'e how we speak?"

    "better"
    when I speak sounds like Bet without the t prunounced and and ends with either an 'a' sound or an 'o' sound (not oh, just o )
    Write is the same: like saying right without prunouncing the T at the end. ... thinking about it descriptively, it probably sounds like 'rye' then a gorrila type 'uh' sound. Hard to explain...


    I should point out, a lot of different areas in Manchester have different accents, such as Rochdale vs Bacup vs Rhodes vs Blakely etc... All have different accents. It's funny that the world commonly associates the ENglish accent with London, because every city and each area within a city has a different accent.
    Linked in is a person with an accent like mine, but you should bear in mind that during the challenge, where he states specific words he prunounces his T's... but if you pay attention to the way he speaks afterwards, you can see how the T's are dropped.

    Specifically listen to "Soft pop" where he says: Sof' Pop ... you can hear where the T was missed.
    When he says TV Remote, you will see again how the T is missed on Remote.
    Again in Hand Basket... missing T
    When he says : "So I'm not being rude or anything" you hear the missing T in 'not' and the way 'th' is sounded, like "Anyfin" instead of anything.
    "Light Shower" near the end was the closest example to the comment on Right regarding my own accent earlier, see if you can pick up what I was trying to describe.

    Unfortunately, his accent isn't exactly the same as mine, but it is very similar.
    So, check it out and know that i NEVER write how I speak and always stick to grammar (or at least the best I can. The way I talk or think does sometimes trip me up ... it is also why I struggle with poems when finding the stressed words. Because the way I speak doesn't stress words the same way as people from the South).

    Someone showing one of the multiple forms of a Manchester Accent (One very close to my own)



    Uverwise: I wud be typin like this an pee-pull wunt be abul to understand wo' I'm sayin. An even if thee can, it wud be well annoyin to read...

    Different area examples of saying the same thing:

    Ya do me 'ed in = You do my head in. (You get on my nerves) - Found more in North West England near me.
    Does my nutt = Does my head in. (Gets on my nerves, gets me angry) - Found more in South England like near London area.
    You peck my head = same as above (Commonly heard in the North West)

    It's ched ou' ere = it's cold out here (Also could say: It's cheddar today)
    brr, its pucker today = it's cold today - derived from slang term that refers to the rim of the rectum contracting
    That stuff's Pucker = That's stuffs good. Depending on use can be something else like: that tastes good. Often used by famous chef Jamie Oliver - in the North West it usually refers to Tetrahydrocannabinol products.

    You're a mong = you're an idiot (or moron if not idiot) - it's former usage was for addressing people with mental illnesses such as down-syndrome. Example next line:
    "Watch for his strength; he's a mong and doesn't seem to have the physical limiters normal people have." (Like Lennie in Of Mice and Men. He would have been referred to as a Mong - or at best, someone who is 'slow in the head.')

    You're a spanner = you're an idiot or a moron
    You're a goon = (You act foolish, just acted foolish, like an idiot or you're dumb)

    I could go on all day... but many examples I could give would warrant an age rating on the thread
    So... imagining some people that I have met, writing something like:

    I wen' down the local wiv sum of the lads. We were 'avin a laff n tha' a' first - bu' then this mong wiv an a-i-chewed tried i' on. Afta slappin 'im around an' po''in 'im wiv a pint po' ... I ended up ge''in arrested.

    ^
    I wanted to cut myself just for writing that. >.<
    It's a definite no in my opinion.

    ~Kev
    Last edited by Greimour; August 17th, 2013 at 01:09 AM.

    "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.― Mahatma Gandhi


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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by mber341 View Post
    I've been wondering about this too.

    I think grammar is my biggest obstacle when only just trying to initially write. I have a really hard time getting started and maintaining momentum, and I think it's due to my anal nature of being "by the book." In English courses in middle school & high school, I always got A's in punctuation and grammar. It was easy for me. I just followed whatever rules my teachers said were the correct ways to structure a sentence and paragraph. Commas always went here or there. Fragments and run-ons were easy to spot and correct. But now as I'm trying to really delve into writing in my 30s, I'm finding it extremely difficult to find my 'voice' because of it. I'll get bits of enthusiasm and influence now and then, plop myself in front of the keyboard and go to town. However when I finished with a short set of paragraphs or a scene, I'll read over it, and while it may sound fine in the way I've written it, my brain can't help but notice all the grammar and punctuation mistakes. So naturally I'll try to restructure my recently written story or paragraphs into what I learned in school long ago was correct grammar, and in the end turn it into something that no longer resembles what I was trying to achieve. I find it very discouraging.

    How do you veterans handle this?
    I think, if you just finish the story, you can address the rest later.
    For voice, to me, the best thing to do is hold the same writing structure throughout - Characters stay in character and Dialogue uses the same format throughout. Like you can't have "He said" one time and 'He said' the next. ... If a different person re-words a single sentence for you, it will probably go unnoticed, but if you write the first half and someone else writes the second, thats when the voice changes in my experience.

    This is because; you know the characters, the people etc.. better than the reader (at the very least in the beginning) so you will narrate a certain way. Whether it's in the form of your Main Character or whatever... So in the example of your Main Character being the Narrator, the voice will usually express the age, the way they address superiors, the way they address friends - possibly internal thoughts... As long as the character stays the same throughout, then his/her voice is created.

    If the entire story is structured with the Main Character as the Narrator, then the characters voice is the voice of the story start to end.

    Just sticking to your writing style whilst maintaining grammar will usually develop the voice on it's own.
    I haven't seen a case where this isn't true, but perhaps someone else has..?
    Last edited by Greimour; August 16th, 2013 at 07:15 AM.

    "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.― Mahatma Gandhi


    If you want me to respond to a thread or your work just pm me.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Greimour View Post
    Addressing that quote and the first post alone - and more so addressing that sentence - this is the EXACT way I would speak those words (as best I can write it):

    "Which is better: to write grammatically correct; or write like we speak?"
    Interesting. You read it as though there should be colon after the word 'better' - and on reflection your interpretation is probably the correct one - whereas I imagined there being a comma after 'write'. This is precisely why punctuation is necessary.

    And yes, I accept and agree that grammar goes much deeper than just punctuation, but until the original poster elaborates on his post and explains better what he means, it's going to be difficult to help him.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by writemor View Post
    My guess is that very few of us speak grammatically correct and I don't think that sentence is grammatically correct. Which is better to write grammatically correct or write like we speak?
    I plan on writing my musings (my thoughts) on an old fellow and I think I will write it exactly the way I think it.
    I've actually found that the opposite is often true. I've encountered many people who are reasonably articulate when they speak, who seem to have a good grasp on grammar, and yet they can't write very well at all. I first noticed this in a creative writing class I took in college when we were asked to read and critique each other's stories. The writing would be stilted and loaded with errors, but when I spoke to the author or heard him or her speak in class, they sounded just fine. I've noticed this at work too. I'll get a horribly written email from someone who does just fine when he's speaking extemporaneously.

    I'm not talking about casual communication, like a text or an email someone dashes off to a co-worker. I'm talking about when people are under some pressure to sound like they know what they're doing. I think the reason things tend to fall apart or come off as stilted or even overblown when they write is that people over-analyze. They try too hard to write. I think most of the time, people would be better off if they would relax and write more like they speak. The punctuation and sentence structure mostly takes care of itself, if you simpley add commas where you pause or end or begin sentences etc. where it "sounds" natural. That's why the often repeated tip that you should read your writing aloud makes so much sense. When I read something that's a mess, I can't help but think author doesn't follow this simple advice. I've also noticed some people take on a sort of silted, semi-archaic voice when they're writing fantasy. That usually comes off badly.

    As far as voice goes, it's usually not so much about grammar as it is about word choice and vocabulary. This can be pretty subtle. In the last thing I posted in the workshop, there is a lot of dialog between a brother and sister. It's clear they came from the same background, but the brother went on to college and teaches, so his vocabulary is more expansive, although he backslides when he gets into it with his sister. Someone noted this in a critique as being effective. The story is also from the brothers POV, so the vocabulary in the narrative is consistent with the dialog. Some of this was stuff I went back and refined after the first draft, but a lot of it just happened naturally as I let the characters take over, so to speak. I think key is, relax and don't over-think it. Don't worry so much about rules and just do what sounds and feels right. And of course, read your work aloud at some point. That works for me anyway.

    Blah blah blah.

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